30 December 2014

2014 in Review: Best Trends, Actors, Movie Music, and Trailers

After we got the Best Scenes out of the way (a post far lengthier than I expected), it's now time to talk a little more about the Year 2014 in Film. I actually really like doing this visually and there are a ton of compilation or montage videos out there this time of year, but to save you some time, here is the best one:

Got all that? So let's talk a bit about film this year. It was an uncommonly good year for movies, which I have said before is probably one to rival great years in the recent past like 1993, 1999, or 2007. I used to do whole columns on this shit. But it's not only a great year for small indie movies that only nerds, critics, and awards pundits see, but for big stupid filmmaking as well.

Yes, 2014 should be known as the year of the Smart Blockbuster. Sure there were things like Hercules and Noah that no one will ever remember but we also had some solid outings in the form of Captain America: The Winter Solider and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There were other pretty competently made films like Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past to add to the good blockbuster party. Then you can look at a film that took itself less seriously than all of this but was probably better than any of them - Guardians of the Galaxy. Even Transformers...sucked. No, nothing good can come from that, anymore. I couldn't even really think of one single awesome scene. It's just noise. Maybe the robot T-Rex.

The only issue with this is really that none of these flicks did all that great at the Box Office. I mean, it's hard to saythat $200 mill a pop isn't great, but that wasn't really the standard most of these guys were shooting for. I'd be curious to see where this leads us going forward. Maybe we're out of the dark brooding self-serious intellectual blockbuster and more into the doofy but strong character-driven blockbuster? I'm so scared.

Best Actors:

I think that for both men and women we have really solid winners this year, but let's waste some time. Obvious male choices include McConaughey, Tatum, and Cumberbatch who seem to be everywhere, but underrated kudos should go to Chris "Captain Snowpiercer" Evans and Martin "Lester Nygaard" Freeman. I also like the idea that this could be the year that Chris Pine realises that he's a much better wacky character actor (Stretch, Horrible Bosses, and Into the Woods) than a leading man (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).

But we all know 2014 belongs to Chris Pratt. Everyone else here is certainly deserving, but they're all already stars. 2014 turned Pratt from a chubby side character on Network Television to a global megastar. And all it took was The LEGO Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, and a Jurassic World trailer. For this transformative experience, Pratt is definitely our dude.

As for the ladies, Emma Stone was everywhere, from a terrible superhero film to a really good film making fun of superhero films. Ditto to Jennifer Lawrence, whose presence never really seems to go away. I give most credit out of this crew to Shailene Woodley, who is really cementing herself in both mainstream and indie filmmaking with Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, and some other movie no one saw.

But of course, Scarlett Johansson eclipsed everyone. She just turned 30, did you know that? I'm always astonished by how young Scarlett Jo is. The Winter Soldier and Under the Skin premiered on the same day, did you know that? How are you that damn good in two movies that couldn't be more different? She followed that by headlining Lucy which was a crazy trippy original Summer Blockbuster that was sort of bypassed in the USA but did ridiculous international business. I wrote a whole post on how amazing her year was for a reason. Scarlett was already a star, but she's turned that star into a megapower of acting in a range of roles that are drastically different and widely appealing. It's a sight to behold.

Best Score/Soundtrack/Music Moments:

I looped all this together. Deal with it, we don't have all day here. I want to point out the scores for two films and the soundtracks for three more, especially because at least one score is ineligible and there's no award for soundtrack. There should be an award for soundtrack. There's always good movie moments that work only because of one perfectly used pop song. But we won't see composer Antonio Sanchez get any statue for his perfect throbbing all-drum score for Birdman. All my cheering then falls to Mica Levi, who also achieved an incredibly eerie screechy score that echoes across Under the Skin with delicious creepy tones.

So now let's talk soundtracks. C'mon - soundtracks are incredible! I'm sure they're just fresh in my mind, but I love both The Interview, which hinges around Katy Perry's "Firework" (which is played or sung four times in the movie), and Top Five, which presents one of the greatest collections of hip-hop in years. The Interview also hosts Usher, ODB, the Scorpions, the White Stripes, and Sister Nancy. It works beautifully. Top Five boasts "Niggas in Paris" as its feature song in addition to Slick Rick, Scarface, Ghostface Killah, and the Roots. Can you tell I'm biased towards hip-hop based soundtracks?

Obviously, though, this year's winner was Guardians of the Galaxy, whose soundtrack actually reached #1 on the Billboard Charts, the first ever for a soundtrack featuring no original songs. Hell, we could even add Frozen (2013) to the mix of great movie soundtracks this year, since it had most of its popularity in 2014. Guardians famously made its bank on Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" but I always dig the Redbone, Elvin Bishop, 10cc, and the Runaways. It's a dream.

Best Trailers:

Do I really have to get into this? Or can you guys just read this post? Needless to say, I'd call this a 3-way tie between Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Jurassic World (2015), and Star Wars Episode VII (2015), which just goes to show how epic 2015 is really going to be. Or maybe just how big and loud and nerdgasm-inducing it'll be. The winner is Star Wars, by the way, obviously. Not only was it an incredibly constructed trailer that is organized perfectly with just the right levels of suspense, attention-grabbing, and familiarity, but it's been scrutinized and dissected down to the millisecond. What other trailer this year has entire blog posts of speculation, complaints, or praise written about a single frame? It will be very interesting when this comes out.

And with that, I would say that we've run out of space! Haha! Do I keep giving you blue balls? Tomorrow we'll talk about my Top Ten List, I swear.


  1. Tilda Swinton for Only Lovers Left Alive and Snowpiercer (and a stint in the Grand Budapest Hotel) all proved how much humanity she can bring to really wacky roles. Underrated!

  2. The film deserves to be the great film of a year because of its talented actors.


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